COP26 made it loud and clear, if we didn’t know already, that we need to act fast on climate change or face disastrous consequences.
The warnings were met by a host of pledges from world leaders to put policies into action that will (if met) help to keep temperature rises within 2C – and ideally 1.5C – to prevent what scientists call a “climate catastrophe”.
However, while there is much to be done by countries, big businesses, and banks, there are also lots of ways we can help in our own day-to-day lives. Imagine what could be achieved if we all made a change for the better?
Thankfully, technology means it’s now easier than ever to do our bit to help curb climate change. Here are seven free financial apps that will benefit not only the planet, but your personal finances too.
Save food waste: OLIO
The OLIO app connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared rather than thrown away.
This could be food nearing its sell-by date in local stores, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away. OLIO can be used for non-food household items too. To make an item available, simply open the app, add a photo, description, and when and where the item is available for pick-up. To access items, just browse the listings available near you, request whatever takes your fancy and arrange a pick-up via private messaging.
OLIO says: “We believe that small actions can lead to big change. Collectively – one rescued cupcake, carrot or bottle of lotion at a time – we can build a more sustainable future where our most precious resources are shared, not thrown away.”
OLIO not only helps those in need, it also helps those on a budget – instead of buying food from the supermarket, why not take it off someone else’s hands for free.
Track your investments’ carbon footprint: Sugi
Sugi enables you to track and compare the carbon footprint of your personal investments. The free app calculates the yearly carbon impact of individual investments as well as of a portfolio as a whole. Investors can easily see how they are doing by comparing these figures against industry benchmarks.
Sugi also provides carbon impact data for similar investments, helping investors to build a greener portfolio in line with their values.
Investors can link up their portfolios, including individual savings accounts (ISAs) and self-invested pensions (SIPPS), to the Sugi platform using open banking technology provided by Moneyhub.
Save clothing waste: Twig
According to Twig, £12.5 billion in clothing is thrown away in the UK every year with 59 per cent of consumers saying this is the ‘easiest option’ to get rid of things.
Calling itself “Your bank of things,” Twig is a banking app that helps users make money from selling their unwanted items. IT says that by extending the life cycle of clothes for just nine months, you could reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by 20-30 per cent each. Twig offers traditional banking services including a debit card and direct debits alongside an app where you can upload your unwanted clothes and electronics to sell.
Each item you offer is valued by Twig, which will then sell or up-cycle it, and (once you agree to the price) you’ll receive payment to your account. You can also offset your carbon footprint with a Twig Carbon Offsetting Subscription. Twig takes the hassle out of reselling old items while also helping the planet, although it’s always worth comparing how much you’re getting with other reselling options such as Vinted or eBay.
You can take cash out with a Twig debit card from an ATM and there’s no charge for the basic service, although there “may be a fee” for its premium membership. Its aim is to keep things out of landfill while helping users meet their financial and environmental goals.
Choose ethical fashion: Good On You
Supported by actress Emma Watson, Good On You helps you choose fashion brands that have a positive impact on people, the planet and animals.
Its aim is to connect customers who want to make better choices when buying clothes – whether it’s to have a lesser impact on the planet or to make sure the company they’re buying from is kind to animals – to the companies that are committed to sustainability and ethical practices.
The free app ranks each company’s labour standards and environment and animal conscience, explaining how and why they have graded each company. It also has articles suggesting sustainable trends you might want to invest in, like “Power Dressing: Our favourite Ethical Blazers”.
Use clean energy: Yoyu
“It’s your power, use it,” says Yoyu. The aim of the free app is to put fossil fuels out of business while also saving you money on your energy bills.
Yoyu tells you the most expensive, and the cheapest, times to use energy, claiming to save users up to 50 per cent of the carbon emitted from their homes. It matches your electricity consumption to the most “renewable” times of the day, usually when it’s sunny or windy. It gives a 24-hour prediction of the best time to use energy based on the weather forecast, so you can plan your laundry, charging (anything electric!) around it.
Yoyu says that by shifting what time we use electricity, we show our collective demand for more renewable power and help to shift the energy system away from fossil fuels.
Net zero your pension: Cushon
Each pension pot finances an average of 23 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year through investments, according to UK-based fintech Cushon. This is equivalent to running either nine family cars each year or burning 1,100 coal fires a year.
Cushon works with employers to make it easy for people to save and invest their money direct from their pay. It offers a range of ISAs, and in January 2021 launched the ‘world’s first’ net zero pension.
Cushion is breaking new ground by being “net zero now”, instead of promising to reach this target in the future – this accelerates a drive by the industry to green investment portfolios and reduce holdings in companies that damage the environment. Cushon’s app enables you to save and invest a portion of your salary, set targets, and keep track of your pension alongside your other savings accounts.
Reduce your personal carbon footprint: Yayzy
Yayze is your free “personal carbon footprint calculator.” It links to your bank account and calculates the carbon footprint of everything you buy, via secure and encrypted bank level security. You’ll then receive an itemised overview of exactly how your spending translates to your carbon footprint, along with ideas for changing to lower carbon alternatives. The basic app is free, but by paying £3 a month you can offset your remaining carbon footprint through a selection of certified climate projects.